Black bear euthanized in Story | Outdoors

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SHERIDAN — Wyoming Game and Fish Department wildlife managers euthanized a young male black bear July 4 after responding to a call on Presbyterian Road where it had accessed unsecured garbage.

Personnel had responded to multiple reports of the blond-colored bear in several areas of Story over the past two weeks and had tried unsuccessfully to trap it. The bear received multiple food rewards, including trash and bird feed, and more than one resident witnessed or captured security camera footage of the bear on their porches. Because it had repeatedly accessed attractants for many days, the decision was made to euthanize rather than relocate the bear.

Euthanizing a bear is the last resort for wildlife managers. But after a bear has repeatedly received food rewards, the bear’s behavior changes and it seeks out areas with humans, knowing that food can be found there, creating a human safety concern.

“We first received calls about bears causing conflicts in Story on June 17,” said Sheridan Wildlife Biologist Tim Thomas. “We responded to investigate incidents on Mountain Home Road and on Buck Trail Road. We saw many residences with bird feeders accessible to bears, including one home that had eight feeders within reach of a bear. Despite years of Bear Wise education in the Sheridan region, there continues to be bear conflicts, as demonstrated by recent events. Unfortunately, given the proximity of our communities to native bear habitats, these types of conflicts will continue to occur unless bear attractants are secured.”

Bears can be attracted by trash, livestock feed, pet food, barbecue grills, fruit trees, backyard livestock, beehives and bird feeders — both seeds and hummingbird feeders. There are no municipal or county ordinances in Sheridan or Johnson counties requiring residents to secure attractants. However, when residents voluntarily secure or contain bear attractants, it has been proven to reduce bear conflicts and conflict-related euthanasia.

“To be successful in preventing bears from becoming food-conditioned, we need more people doing the right thing,” Thomas said.

The euthanasia of this bear is not the end of the bear-conflict story in the Sheridan region. Additional bear conflicts have been reported in recent weeks in several locations, emphasizing the need for residents throughout Sheridan and Johnson counties to secure attractants.

The following are other examples:

June 22 — A bear accessed unsecured fish food at a residence outside Dayton. WGFD personnel responded and spoke with the owners about securing attractants.

June 24 — A bear was reported in Dayton. WGFD personnel responded but did not find the bear.

July 2 — A bear accessed unsecured trash, livestock feed and a bird feeder at a residence on Wolf Creek Road. WGFD personnel responded and set a trap. The bear did not return and the trap was removed.

July 2 — A bear was reported accessing garbage at a cabin west of Buffalo. WGFD personnel responded. The cabin owner secured the trash and no further reports have been received. 

July 3 — A bear accessed unsecured chicken feed at a residence outside Ranchester. WGFD personnel were not called until a day later and when they responded, the bear was gone.

July 5 — A bear was trapped in Story on Buck Lane and relocated to the Bighorn National Forest.

For residents who were unable to attend one of the Living in Bear and Lion Country workshops held last month in Dayton and Story, much of the same information that is presented at the workshops can be found on the Bear Wise page of the WGFD website at wgfd.wyo.gov.

Any sightings of a bear in residential or developed areas should be reported as soon as possible to the Game and Fish Regional Office at 307-672-7418 during regular business hours or to a local law enforcement agency.



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